SocraticGadfly: 6/23/13 - 6/30/13

June 28, 2013

#Fox #TheBuzzer continues #ESPN type #HOF fluffing with #ToriiHunter

I first blogged about this yesterday, when Fox Sports' website The Buzzer touted Ian Kinsler for Cooperstown. Stating that I refused to give it the cheap publicity of linking to the post, I does not currently belong in Baseball Hall of Fame conversation, and will not be there when he ends his career. I added that he's not even, yet, in the Hall of Very Good discussion range.

Well, Fox, perhaps taking pages from Faux News on how to gin up cheap PR, has today touted Torii Hunter. Again, no linking by me, though I'm going to up the sarcasm level via the over-the-top hashtagging. And again, not even close to HOF level candidacy!

OK, the "anti-talk," in brief.

First, a career OPS+ of 110 minimum is a sine qua non in my book. Hunter, currently 111, barely makes it. And, he had no single outstanding year. His top year, by OPS+, was 131. Solid but not eye-popping.

Another sabermetric stat I have been turning to more and more is WAA. 30 is my minimum and 35 is preferred, though I more flexible on this. Hunter hasn't even broken 20.

Second, some counting stats. Barely over 2,000 hits. Just an outside shot, as I see it, at 2,500 career. No shot at 400 career HRs. Not that good, nor that frequent, of a base stealer.

Third, "counting sabermetrics." He's well short of HOF Standards and HOF Monitor baselines. And his JAWS, for center fielders, leaves him behind the likes of ... Johnny Damon, Ellis Burks and Brett Butler, for doorknob's sake.

Fourth, he doesn't pass the eyeballs test.

And, I'm going to continue to skewer Fox, and to start calling it Faux Sports, as long as it keeps up this nonsense.

June 27, 2013

Feeling sorry for #WestTX, but not $17 million sorry

The city of West has reportedly filed suit against West Fertilizer Co. over the blast in the city in April that killed 15 people.

I understand why you're doing that. I even understand why you're going after the "deep pockets" of CF Industries.

I do NOT understand, though, how a city the size of West could let itself have $17 million in uninsured assets, now $17 million in uninsured losses.

I've said this before: It's part of a mindset. It's a mindset that starts with top state Republicans like Rick Perry and flows downhill from there. But, government on the cheap is a staple of local level governments in Texas, too.

And, how good does this look for your out-of-state business recruiting trips, Tricky Ricky? I'm sure businesses want to move to communities that are that lack in municipal fiscal management, and that will then sue businesses. (I'm not denying that at least the fertilizer company deserves a suit.)

And, folks in West, including municipal government? What happens when you run up against all the tort "reform" laws the GOP Lege passed and Perry signed into law over the past several years?

Answer, I'll venture: Not much. Old mindsets probably won't change quickly. Sadly.

And, you everyday folks who complain about too much of even municipal government? Guess what?

If you live in West, you're now going to either get to pay a LOT more taxes or get a LOT fewer services.

Fox Sports heads to #ESPN #HOF fluffing territory again

And, apparently, Fox's "The Buzzer" is making this a regular practice. Probably to generate cheap page views of crappy touts of baseball players it claims might be headed to Cooperstown.

But, I think I can safely say that Ian Kinsler does not currently belong in Baseball Hall of Fame conversation, and will not be there when he ends his career.

A man who probably won't break 2,200 hits or 1,000 RBI, especially one whose entire home career to date has been spent at one of baseball's most hitter-friendly parks, and in the AL to boot, has no business being currently touted, unless the "business" is Fox seeking page views, and even then, it's pushing to hit sub-ESPN credibility.

I'll be generous, and project Kinsler at 2,300 career hits, 1,050 RBI, 1,250 runs. I'll also predict his career OPS+ falls short of 110, a starting-point red line for even being considered for the HOF.

Call me back two years from now to talk about whether he's got full membership in the Hall of Very Good, let alone the Hall of Fame.

And, no, I'm not linking to the Fox piece. It can get cheap page views from others. And, I think the same strategy plays out for ESPN from now on. When it wrote about Carlos Beltran, that was someone who was legitimate for borderline discussion at least. Kinsler's not close. But, if ESPN pulls a Kinsler-type story out of its ass, I'm not linking to it, either.

I mean, this is why I stopped reading the baseball blog High Heat Stats on anything but the rarest of glances. Post after post were nothing other than a header of a Twitter hashtag with that player's name, then some attempt at content to justify writing a blog post with that header.

So, in a sense, this is more than a complaint about Fox and ESPN. It's part of my Dark Side of the Internet series, now. Click the tag below this post for more.

June 26, 2013

Hey, #Stlcards: No Jeebus on the mound, please

The mound at Busch Stadium, baptized/exorcised
Bill McClellan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is absolutely right to raise some sort of cain over a cross and what looks like a Christian fish symbol regularly etched into the mound at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals.

And, if Adam Wainwright really claims that "looping figure" is a numeral 6, in tribute to Stan Musial, he's full of crap. Be honest if you've got the fish-Jesus symbol, for doorknob's sake. Don't lie about it.  Because that's what that "loop" looks like, a lot more than a "6."

And, manager Mike Matheny, if you've requested or ordered the grounds crew to do that, you should also man up and be honest and forthright. Because I suspect it was you:
Rob Rains has written a book about team members and their faith. He quotes manager Mike Matheny, who brought up the subject of faith in one of his first team meetings last spring.

“I am not going to shove my faith down your throat, but when the opportunity presents itself, don’t expect me to walk away. This is who I am, and Jesus Christ is at the center of my life. It’s all that I am, every day, every decision that I make. I’m going to stand up and tell you what I believe is true.”
Beyond that, a lot of people who are Christians also believe that god doesn't give that big of a flying fuck about who wins or who loses a sports contest. Fortunately, due to the massively greater number of games, and less focus on any one game, we don't have to worry about the post-game Jesus celebrations nearly as much in baseball as in football.

And, Matheny is that Christian. He sent at least one of his kids (I don't know if he has more than one) to Westminster Christian Academy, a conservative Presbyterian high school.

(More here on the images, along with additional images. More here on the strongly Christian and clubhouse character background I'm not sure the team ever owned up to who was doing this. They did eventually remove them, which prompted national wingnut talking heads to spout off.)

And, don't give me the "Christians are persecuted" line over people like me, and McClellan, complaining. Because, even in the good old days of Ike, picket fences, racial segregation and anti-Catholic bias, players and groundskeepers didn't do that to mounds. And, speaking of anti-Catholic bias, are white evangelical Protestants ever "pushy" on evangelizing Latino Catholics, as Edward Mujica, Yadier Molina or Carlos Beltran might be? (I have no idea if the Cards have any Jewish players, and venture they don't have any Muslim ones, or irreligious ones. And, no, not all Latino ballplayers are Catholic. Certainly, Albert Pujols gives the impression of being some kind of evangelical Protestant; I'm just playing demographic percentages.)

Now, there's no legal reason the team can't do this. But, still, is it smart business? And what if a new Sandy Koufax were pitching against you? Or Ryan Braun noticed it and deliberately did a Star of David with his toe?

June 25, 2013

Obama's non-new climate speech

Hey, did you hear that President Obama wants to have his Environmental Protection Agency implement new emissions standards for existing power plants? Yaaaaaay, right?

Well, did you also notice that he's not calling for action in that area until 2015?

Sure, it's easy to say, "That's the regulatory time process" or something.

But, here's the reality.

Obama did largely kick the can down the road. That's sad, but in no way unexpected. Just as "Gang Green" environmental groups hitting up my inbox for money after the speech was in no way unexpected.

As for the EPA and stiffening CAFE standards? This is the same EPA now allowing 15 percent ethanol fuel, the same EPA who's had the rules for new power plants ready to go, but not promulgated, for 2 years, and the same EPA that has flex-fuel loopholes in those new CAFE standards.

And, the stuff it does OK? That's Dear Leader's Office of Management and Budget that quashes them. No GOP doings there. Just like Dear Leader's OMB has quashed any tighter EnergyStar proposals or anything else.

And, it's not just me saying some of that. So did Mother Jones, in its pre-speech analysis.

So, folks, get real. This wasn't anything majorly new.

Meanwhile, we got another dodge on what will happen with Keystone XL. Smart money continues to say, "Bet on it being built." Note, as The Atlantic does, Obama's weasel words supporting approval if it "does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution." The State Department's result claims that's the case, while EPA says no. So, in other words, nothing's changed, and Obama has just kicked this can down the road, too.

He's Obamasplaining, in other words.

He did, as The Atlantic notes, also talk about adaptation as well as mitigation. However, it appears specifics were few. And, he didn't challenge the GOP here. That's bad, because challenging denialists on adaptation is just as important as on mitigation. Both will involve regulatory issues and money, mitigation just as much or more so than adaptation.

And, as for the claim that Gina McCarthy's nomination to head the EPA being on hold by the Senate GOP is part of what's tied Obama's hands? Tosh. See "OMB" above, first. Second, just because EPA doesn't have an official administrator doesn't mean that it can't be implementing things, anyway. Third, before the issue of recess appointments went to legal battles and eventually the Supreme Court, Obama could have been using more recess appointments in general. Or, the threat of them.

Meanwhile, in your doh/deliberate distortion of the day, the Center for Progress attacks cable media for not covering the speech more, even though Team Obama made it explicitly private! Yes, it deserved more time. But the private nature of the speech could have readily been interpreted as a "signal."

SCOTUS tells Perry, Abbott: Redistrict away!

The Supreme Court did not officially junk the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act, but it did say the 2006 update, used to guide preclearance, is out of date.

(And, Texas AG Greg Abbott has wasted no time in noting this applies to voter ID law in Texas, as well as redistricting.)

While the Court did not specify how this would affect cases such as Texas' redistricting, I would think the takeaway is redistrict away until Congress follows SCOTUS' suggestion and does a better update than the latest renewal of the act in 2006, in line with more current demographics.

Likelihood of the current House doing this? Zero. 

So, do preclearance cases sit in limbo? Use older, pre-2006 guidelines for now, or what?

This is typical of the Roberts Court on cases like this, just like the ID provisions case in Arizona decided earlier this month. Once again, it's telling Congressinoal conservatives, "Write a bill like this!"

Likelihood of the House doing that, and gutting the VRA in the guise of updating it? High. 

The real solution, as I've blogged before, is to nationalize Section 5. That's what should have been done from the start, but northern "machine" Democrats of big cities, and northern suburban moderate Republicans alike didn't want to address racial issues in voting in their backyard at the time. Technically, SCOTUS struck down Section 4, as the New York Times story on the ruling notes, but, properly nationalizing Section 5 would include Section 4. That, in turn, gets at how this is, in essence, a legal memo from Roberts saying "Do this!"

Anyway, Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott are certain to treat this as a green light for pushing every possible envelope on Texas' redistricting ideas. 

And, the Dallas Morning News, whose editorial pages have gotten reasonably better, in fits and starts, over the last couple of decades, is moronic on this issue. The Snooze's editorial board is clueless of how this fits into a Roberts Court pattern of legislative directives from the bench, while inviting actions like Abbott's until the "right" legislative directive gets written. Scotusblog also recognizes the other "obvious" issue which the Snooze misses, and which I touch on above, and that's that Sections 4 and 5 are intertwined.

The only silver lining is that this may ("may," I said!) help Battleground Texas actually turn the state a little less red. But, as I've noted here, BG and the Texas Democratic Party need to do more than just boost Hispanic turnout.

So what's Obama's real position on marijuana

Despite the Inspector Jauvert-type antics of a US District Attorney in Montana, as depicted here by Alternet, way too many Obamiacs and semi-Obamiacs are still ready to give Dear Leader a pass on the issue, including the author of that Alternet piece.

Reality? When DA Michael Cotter now goes on the record, and Attorney General Eric Hitler, and Obama, don't nuance his statements, when are you going to stop giving Dear Leader a "pass" on the issue?

Add in Project Prism by the National Security Agency, and another federal directive encouraging federal employees to spy on one another, and it should be clear that Obama's social liberalism is very selective and very campaign driven. And medical marijuana doesn't have the same lobby as gay rights does, so that's why you got no hat tip in the 2012 campaign.

And, now that we're in "legacy" mode, you sill won't.

That said, do prescribed marijuana substitutes offer all the health benefits of marijuana? No. Do they offer some? Yes. For other conditions, is using something like an inhalator better than directly smoking marijuana? Yes.

The problem is that, in most states (New Mexico a notable exception) medical marijuana has overreached enough to have given clear signals that "medical" should be put in scare quotes, as I just did.

Related to that is he problem that marijuana growers, even if not part of cartels, even if alleged 1960s hippies, often practice growing practices that are environmentally harmful.

The bigger problem, though, in the issue at hand is that the Obama Administration doesn't want to work with state laws at all. It's just as hard-nosed on this issue as W.'s team was. Which is why the Alternet writer, despite his connections to former Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer (or because of?) is still kind of clueless at best and in denial at worst.

We need a liberal president who either still smokes pot now, or else never did, unlike Dear Leader and the Slickster (despite his "didn't inhale" denial) to address the issue, I guess.

Maybe, just maybe, in about 50 years, our federal government will get honest about both illegal drugs and legal pharmaceuticals.

June 24, 2013

AL East is NOT better than NL Central

Normally, I just see baseball idiocy at ESPN. But, Jon Paul Morosi at Fox gets in the picture with his claim that the AL East is the best division in baseball.
By this point in baseball’s 162-game tightrope, the standings typically reveal a handful of conclusions. Not so in the 2013 AL East, which is — indisputably and without any hint of regional bias — the best division in the major leagues.

First, his parenthetical qualification indicates that regional bias indeed is what's behind the story.

Let's take a look at today's MLB standings, shall we, Gentle Readers and Mr. Morosi?

AL East: 31 games above .500
NL Central: 23 games above .500

So, there, the AL East looks better, but not indisputably so.

Next there's cumulative run differential for the five teams in each division.
AL East: Plus-102 runs
NL Central: Plus-132 runs

In terms of percentage of difference, even, the NL Central outranks the AL East on this as much as the AL East outranks the NL Central on games over .500.

It's true that, overall, the AL is above .500 and the NL is below, which one could argue mitigates the run differential issue.

That said, if Morosi had said something like:
By this point in baseball's 162-game tightrope, the AL East has staked a strong claim as arguably being baseball's best division.
We wouldn't be having this little argument.

I could probably delve further into advanced stats, to see if fielding-independent pitching shows AL East teams are playing out of their heads, NL Central teams could be even hotter, or whatever, but I don't make Jon Paul Morosi money to do that.

That said, Jonah Keri at ESPN's Grantland IS in the same rent district, and this week, he focuses on the five NL Central teams as part of his weekly "The 30" review of MLB around the horn.

He notes that, if the Pirates could pick up one solid right-handed bat before trade deadline, it could be huge, and that the Brew Crew has been hit at least half as hard by the injury bug as the Yankees, but with much less luck from their replacement players. Take that, JPM.

That said, I most certainly do not expect every team in the AL East to finish at or above .500. I'll venture two teams, not just one, finish below the treading water mark.

Because, JPM, take also this. Gordon Edes at ESPN says we shouldn't be surprised if (when?) Boston tumbles, and tumbles hard, from its division-leading perch.